A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dave's Deep Thoughts - My Rock'em Sock'em Brother

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,
but in this case,
this one rolled all the way to Ohio.

When he came along, he completed the quartet,
2 girls      2 boys

When I was almost five,
I was sent to my aunt’s house for a few days
because the stork was bring me a baby brother.

I remember thinking it was odd that I had to leave the farm
because a stork was coming.
We had chickens, pigs, dogs, cats and 4 goldfish.
I couldn’t figure out why a stork was such a big deal.

Turns out,  it was.

When I came home 3 days later,
there was a bed placed in the first floor dining room of the farmhouse for my mom.
I remember thinking mom was going to die.

I wanted to send my baby brother back, immediately.

After several minutes of parental reassuring,
and about a month of peaking in on my mom to see if she was still alive,
I accepted the fact that my baby brother was not sent to kill my mother.

Once I realized my brother wasn’t a killer,
I became friends with him……..
except for cartoon time.

Mom would place him in a swinging chair
that  played tunes on detuned bells
much like an ice cream truck does.

This was particular irritating to a 5 year old
who needed to focus to see if the coyote was ever going to catch the roadrunner.
(editors note:  he never did)

As we grew older we began to play together.
Much of our recreation involving dirt or depending on the weather, mud.

The farm became a magical wonderland……
building forts in the barn,
erecting dams in the creek (the downstream neighbor, not so happy),
exploring the woods,
playing hide and seek,
using the outdoor swing set (this one did not have detuned bell songs)
or running around the outside of the house 
as fast as we could with dogs following in close pursuit.

I remember teaching him how to make cinnamon toast.
There were other ventures into the culinary arts,
but I hold no responsibility for him ingesting
an inordinate amount of raisins in one sitting
or eating a stick of butter.

To this day, I would not advise offering my brother
a stick of butter or a box of raisins as an appetizer,
as he will start to get a green look on his face.

Perhaps my parents were ahead of their time in the 60’s
and believed in global warming,
because they opted not to heat our bedroom in the winter.

We remain living testimonies that you can survive artic winters
with only electric blankets and a  lot of flannel.

Our bedroom was our sports sanctuary.
Sisters were banned.

On subfreezing January evenings,
we could see our breath as we went toe to toe on the electric football field.
The ice on the bedroom windowpanes,
created the perfect setting for vicious ice hockey games.
And the rock ‘em  sock ‘em robots had epic boxing matches,
even though we both knew the blue robot’s head often was stuck.

After the spring thaw,
we decided to mow the pasture so we could create a baseball field.
Neither the livestock nor our parents were amused.

I take full credit for developing my brother into the athlete that he would become.
Our intense basketball games in the barn
set the standard for his 3-16  high school varsity teams.

Our two man football games on the front lawn,
paved the way for his 0-10 and 1-9 high school seasons.

But it was baseball where he truly blossomed
and followed his dad’s footsteps,
This was probably because dad showed him how to play,
but more likely,  because I removed the cow patties from our pasture/baseball park.

He ventured into the world of music for a while.
He failed at electronic organ lessons likely because he tried to play the instrument
while wearing a football helmet.

He picked up the trumpet in school,
and from what  I witnessed, that’s all he did with it.
I never saw the instrument actually touch his lips.

As he grew into adulthood,
it was clear that he favored my dad’s looks and personality,
Kind and gentle but strong in faith and conviction.

[Norman McDowell, High School Graduation Picture]

We went our separate ways during our college years
but in a three day period during the spring of 1983,
(and without knowing the other’s intentions)
we each called our parents and told them we wanted to go on to seminary.

Because he had tried to play the organ wearing a football helmet,
he became a preaching/lead pastor.

Because I did not wear a football helmet while playing,
I  became a music pastor.

Each church in Ohio to which he has been assigned
has been blessed by his pastoral leadership.

He has rescued two churches from financial crisis.

He has since become a faithful husband and  father.
But to me,  he will always be brother.

I do indeed give thanks to God for the gift of my brother.

Happy birthday Robert!
And remember, when playing Rock ‘em  Sock’em Robots,
always choose the blue robot.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is 
for brothers to dwell together in unity!
                                                                     Psalm 133:1

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